My grandpa always had two items in his pants pocket when he was working on the farm – a pair of pliers and a spark plug. They would jingle around with the loose change and his bottle of pain pills (as he called them).

Grandpa used the pliers to fix anything and everything. He served as an airplane mechanic in the war, so his primary job on our farm was to keep the tractors and other equipment running. That's where the spark plug came in. 

My dad's pockets hold his pocket knife (which, like Grandpa's pliers, is used for everything), the plastic case for his ear plugs, and his cell phone.

The contents of Glen's pockets are about the same – his pocket knife, his cell phone, and, usually, a pen and old business card for jotting down notes.

For me, though, the number of gadgets I keep on me when I'm working outside has become nearly unmanageable. 

Like my family members and most other farmers, I carry a pocket knife. And, despite my determination to leave my cell phone in the house, I now carry my cell phone with me at all times too. It's just a heck of a lot easier to call Glen when I need help than it is to try to find him. 

I've also found that I don't forget to make the phone calls that before couldn't be made until I got into the house. The calls I would only remember again when I crawled into bed and it was too late to call.

When we first started farming, I used a small flashlight when working in the dark. The flashlight was replaced by a headlight (a most thoughtful Christmas gift, I might say), which let me use two hands to work. I still use a small flashlight for quick trips outside, but my headlight could just as well be bolted to my head in the winter when the majority of my work is done in the dark. 

Beyond my pocket knife, my cell phone and my headlight, the gadgets I carry are a little less conventional. 

The first gadget I started carrying with me religiously (even before my cell phone) was the baby monitor. Even when the kids were outside with us, I often kept the monitor clipped to my shoulder so that I could hear the phone ring or the oven timer go off.

I rarely carry the monitor now because the battery life has been reduced to about two minutes. Instead, I leave it plugged into the outlet in the milk house. And I set an alarm on my cell phone to remind me to check the oven.

Last summer, I started carrying a small camera in my pocket so that I could take pictures for my blog. The camera on my phone is unreliable, at best, and it was breaking my heart to miss capturing some of the kids' experiences outside.

Then, when it came time to trade barn jeans for summer shorts, I had a problem. The shorts I wear to the barn usually don't have pockets. 

At that point, since clipping my gadgets to my waistband didn't work, I had my pocket knife clipped to my tank top strap, my phone holder clipped just above my knife, the monitor clipped to my other tank top strap and the camera case clipped just below the monitor. One salesman asked me if I was prepared for battle.

This spring, I added two more gadgets to my arsenal – my Bluetooth earpiece and my iPod. I've found that I can take care of a lot of phone calls while I'm feeding calves when I use a handsfree earpiece. 

Plus, the tasks seem to go a lot quicker when I'm talking and working. I think that's a side-effect of always working on the farm with Grandpa, Dad or one of my sisters while growing up. We were always talking while we worked.

My iPod has the same effect. On the nights when chores seem to be taking forever, if I put my earbuds in and turn on the tunes, time flies instead of dragging along. And if I set the volume just right, I can drown out the kids' whining, but still be able to hear them if they yell for help.

Needless to say, my pockets are full. There isn't room for another gadget. Well, there's still room in the pocket where I keep my knife, but we learned the hard way that nothing with a battery can share a pocket with a knife.

Glen put his flip phone in his pocket with his knife; the phone and the knife ended up in a wrestling match; and the phone lost. The screen on the phone looked like a big ink blot.

Dad had an incident with his phone one time, too. Somehow, he lost it in a hayfield while he was baling hay. It looked like an episode from a redneck sitcom the next day: Dad went out and listened to every bale while we kept calling his cell phone number. He never did find the phone.

Now that it's once again time for shorts, I decided that cut-offs would be the only way to contain my collection of gadgets. Either that or a fanny pack. And that's definitely not an option.

I'm sure Grandpa would shake his head and mutter, "What do you need all that for?" And, there are days when I ask myself the same question. That's when all of the gadgets stay in the house and I farm the way Grandpa did – unplugged.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children – Dan, 4, and Monika, 2. When she’s not parenting or farming, she’s writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.